Burnt and Frozen: 2 Days in Savannah – Part One

In Sina's Posts, Tamás' Posts, Trips on February 26, 2012 by SN

Earlier this month, we spontaneously decided to go to Savannah, GA, over the weekend. Savannah is one of the few places in Georgia that had not been razed by General Sherman during the Civil War. Established in 1733, one year after Georgia was founded, many buildings from the Colonial Period and Early Republic are still standing in the historic part of the town. Savannah’s claim to fame are its haunted houses. It is considered one of the most ghost-plagued spots in the U.S. Going to Savannah allows us to learn more about early America and the Southern Gothic. Unlike Tamás, this was not my first time in Savannah. I visited the city in December 2001 while on a road trip as an exchange student at Trent University, Ontario, Canada. I still remember my fascination with Spanish Moss…

Our trip started adventurous with us missing the Greyhound bus in Atlanta literally by seconds. The jury is still out whether to blame us for not having left earlier, or MARTA for simply canceling the subway train that we wanted to take, and that would have gotten us there ten minutes earlier. When we finally arrived at the Greyhound station, we went to the bus which was was closed and void of a bus driver, however, other people were already seated. Following a tip from someone who waved at us, we went inside the terminal. Here the staff directed us back outside and then the bus departed in front of our eyes. Tamás ran next to the bus for a couple of seconds, signaling the driver. Supposedly, Greyhound bus drivers are not allowed to stop for late passengers once they started their journey. Be aware of that if you should go on a Greyhound bus. Let’s just say our Megabus to Memphis, and our Boltbus to D.C. back in ’09 did not leave until they made sure everybody that had bought tickets was actually present. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with taking a Greyhound Express. We enjoyed a travel time that was about the same as with a car, two seats per person, and free wifi.

After a nice breakfast at the cute The Coffee Loft, a true family business with great pastry in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood in Atlanta, we arrived in Savannah in the afternoon. We stayed at the great Thunderbird Inn, a 1960s style motel just outside of downtown, incidentally also right across the street from the Greyhound station.

Retro Roars: The Thunderbird Inn.

Immediately after our arrival, we attended a tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery, “Savannah’s most eerie burial grounds” according to the Lonely Planet I got from my colleagues in Dortmund (225). “Eerie” does not really begin to describe it though and it is of (inter-)national rather than merely local fame. It is an inspiring, romantic place that dates back to the early eighteen hundreds and is burial site to many famous people, as well as a hot-spot for artists and dandies. Many of the graves feature spectacular statues or even monuments. In combination with the large old trees full of Spanish Moss, and a river just behind it, it feels much like a park and makes for a great place to be. Here is a Google Image Search, just to give you an idea.

I still admire Tamas for figuring out the complicated public transportation system in order to safely navigate us by bus to the cemetery which is about 20 minutes outside of downtown. Again, we are so European. Here are two quotes from the Bonaventure Tours Facebook page, on the day after the tour:

A visiting German couple actually took the bus to get there last night for it!
A tour first!
Trust me, it was a surprise to see this couple walking up to the tour!

Our tour guide was Shannon Scott, a renowned figure in Savannah ghost and haunted tours as we found out afterwards. We met at sunset in a cold and windy parking lot in front of the administration building. The cloudless evening was the perfect setting for a nightly stroll of a cemetery that became famous in John Berendt’s bestselling novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994).

Slayed from the Back: Administrative Building as Former Crime Scene.

The tour included stories of people that died in tragic ways. Stories which were ultimately about suppressed homosexuality, forbidden love, and family secrets.

Monument for Ceased Wife: Plot Sculptures.

Phallic Power: Rather Impressive Monument for A Grave.

Haunted Figure: Little Gracie.

For bigger versions and more pictures by Tamás, follow this Flickr link.
The two-hour tour left us inspired but frozen. We had not really dressed for temperatures only slightly above freezing, and even colder winds. The wind fit the scene, however. Trees were creaking, branches crackling, even falling off.

The tour was followed by a delicious dinner at Sisters of the New South. At this point we had to rely on the courtesy of fellow tour guests with cars to get to the restaurant. During the dinner Shannon answered more questions on the history of the cemetery, his motivation of giving tours there, and his vision of it as a top-tourist destination. The highlight of the second part of the tour was a casket which was supposedly part of a Freemason ritual in the 19th century.

This was the frozen part of our story in Savannah. Stay tuned for the burnt part.


One Response to “Burnt and Frozen: 2 Days in Savannah – Part One”

  1. […] previously read the frozen part of our trip to Savannah. On the second day of our short trip we did an extensive walking tour […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: